Destiny 2 engine changes will reduce install size and improve character creator

(Image credit: Bungie)

In preparation for Destiny 2: Beyond Light and the expansions that will follow it, Bungie is making some changes and improvements to the engine powering Destiny 2. 

Engineering director David Aldridge outlined the changes in a recent blog post. "When Destiny 2 launched three years ago, we had no idea that in 2020 we’d announce a new trilogy of expansions (among other 2020 surprises we didn’t anticipate)," he says. "At the time, we thought Destiny 2’s arc would look a lot more like Destiny 1 – a couple of expansions, and then a sequel.   

"We learned many lessons from the transition to Destiny 2, and from shipping Curse of Osiris, Warmind, Forsaken, the Year-2 seasons, and Shadowkeep," Aldridge continues. "When we evaluated those lessons, we decided not to pursue a Destiny 3, but instead to reinvest everything in Destiny 2 and make it all that it can be. To support that strategy, we’ve made several tech investments to help us sustainably evolve the game for years to come, and some of those investments are arriving in Beyond Light."

These "investments" will target a few areas, at least in Beyond Light: how missions are scripted and designed, how patches are prepared and delivered, how the Guardian character creator works, and how some old destinations are lit. 

First up, missions. In a nutshell, the way the game runs missions is changing, and the new method "will give designers options to create more novel mission mechanics." Beyond Light will put it through its paces, and Bungie will build on this method in the future. As it happens, this change is the one that will cause the new Prophecy dungeon to be temporarily removed. Prophecy will return, though, and on the upside, this new method will allow for face-to-face fireteam joining in social spaces, letting players instantly join up with fellow Tower-goers for some jolly cooperation.

(Image credit: Bungie)

Destiny 2's patching methods, meanwhile, have been refined to make it easier to push fixes to the live game. As a result of this change, all of Destiny 2 will need to be re-downloaded when Beyond Light is released. The good news is that the game's install size will be 30-40% smaller by Aldridge's estimate, and to help offset the heavy download, Bungie will open preloading 10 hours ahead of the Beyond Light launch. By expediting patches, Bungie also hopes to better respond to seasonal feedback (and avoid repeated mistakes) in the future. 

"Historically each of our seasons has had to get deep into production before the preceding season launched, preventing us from reacting to learnings from that preceding season," Aldridge says. "These tech improvements should give us 1-2 more weeks of flexibility on a seasonal scale, helping us pivot more quickly in some cases."

Visually, the most noticeable changes will be tweaks to the game's character creator and destination lighting. The new creator should allow for "more player customization options in the future," but in the short-term, it may make your character's face look slightly different (assuming you have helmets disabled in social spaces). It's unclear if or when players will have the option to edit their character's face and potentially incorporate these new customization options, but even if that does become feasible, it likely won't be an option this November.  

The lighting changes, on the other hand, only apply to the EDZ and Nessus for now. They're basically being updated to bring them in line with the rest of the game's lighting, so the EDZ and Nessus should look prettier come November. We'll be spending most of our time on Europa this winter, but hey, you can't argue with better lighting. 

Speaking of Europa, the latest Beyond Light trailer shows some new enemies beneath the ice.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.